Tag Archives: staple hill

22-07-2019 – The Stark Horrors Of Reality

Ahoy there shipmates!

I’ll keep this one short and simple – a bit like Dopey the Dwarf, I suppose. But first, I’ll give you all just a moment to try and remember the names of the other six dwarves, okay? Ready? Off you go…

…Back now? Got them all? There, well done you!

And if anybody didn’t remember the last one – it was Doc. It’s always bloody Doc….

Anyway – I digress. Saturday’s trip to the Queen Vic was a bit of an odd night – for one thing, I got told to turn my guitar up several times. That doesn’t happen as often as you might expect. READ MORE

19-07-2019 – The Misunderstanding Of Sport

Well, good day to you all!

A mighty fine night at the Blue Lagoon on Friday; as our Em was rather wiped out after a long week in Amsterdam (apparently work can be very wearing, probably one of the reasons why I avoid it wherever possible), shiny daughter Lily kindly stepped in to cover for her this weekend.

And, as expected, a fantastic job she made of it, too. I was particularly touched by a comment from a young Ruby (previously unknown to us) who told us she was actually moved to tears by Lil’s performance. And then rather spoiled the compliment by adding, “I don’t normally drink, you know…”. READ MORE

08-07-2019 – Iambic Pentameter

Howdy pardners!

I did – until five minutes ago have written for you probably the best one of these blogs I’ve ever created – a masterpiece of witty prose and profound insights.

Unfortunately, just as I was signing off at the end, my laptop decided to choose that moment to randomly crash, and lost everything.

And, yes, smug IT geeks – I had been saving the file as I went along, but for some arcane software reason which I have no interest in understanding, the saved file was all naughtily corrupted. READ MORE

29-01-2019 – Disco Dave, Japan And The Power Slide

Hola homeys!

It’s always nice to see old friends, particularly when they bring you an ultra-cool pressie :-).

Saturday’s jaunt to the Albion House Club in Cheltenham was graced by the presence of my dear and long-standing friend Disco Dave, whom we haven’t seen for a couple of years on account of him working on the wrong side of the world.

And a very pleasant evening we all had, despite a somewhat worrying start…

Our lovely Em was arriving separately to the rest of us, and a little later, and so we duly rolled up, set up the kit, and waited. Start time came and went, and there is still no sign of our sparkly chanteuse. A quick call reveals that although she is quite close, but “the police have shut the road off” – and this being Cheltenham, and a one-way labyrinth at the best of times, it’s not easy to find another way in. READ MORE

21-01-2019 – Plankocasters And The Wig

Good grief, Charlie Brown…

That was an exciting week and no mistake!

For one thing, I had a birthday in the middle of it – for the curious amongst you, I can reveal that my age is now officially “not dead yet”.

And I was particularly delighted to be sent a large and luxurious custom birthday card from my favourite Pighillians, featuring a stunning Triumph Bonneville with a fetching blonde lady (actually somewhat reminiscent of my dear Dem in her younger years) astride it, and – this had to be pointed out to me – a rather handsome chap lurking in the background. READ MORE

15-01-2019 – Told You So Special

Yo homeys

Well, that’s back to normality (or what passes for normality, at any rate). Friday night at the Blue Lagoon was gratifyingly busy considering it’s early January, and I managed to wangle just enough stage space to be able to use my pointy guitar for a change; something which makes me rather happy.


If only because it gives me an excuse to show a picture of it… Ain’t she purty?

“Our clients” behaved just as expected, i.e. with much dancing around, spilling of drinks, and dropping of glasses. For entertainment value, Em and I mentally awarded the prize to a group of gyrating lads who had obviously had dancing described to them at some point, but had clearly never actually seen it done.

Saturday night, and a jaunt out to the very welcoming Golden Fleece in Bath, to wheel out some of the noisier side of the repertoire. And we had an absolute blast, with much messing about and tomfoolery going on. The crowd were lovely, and even the table of somewhat senior customers (and this is me saying that) right at the front seemed to being enjoying themselves. We were particularly impressed by the nice white-haired lady who was jigging around in her seat and singing along, pausing only occasionally to get up and hobble across to the bar to get herself another beer in. “I’m seventy nine next month”, she told me as she came past, “And I’m having a lovely time”. We’re considering adopting her as the band’s official mum.

Even a technical hitch, involving my lovely guitar sound disappearing and being replaced by an ominous rhythmic buzzing didn’t slow us down; Emma simply went out to harassed the “clients” individually, and sang some impromptu requests while I frantically tried to diagnose the problem, failed, dug out the necessary leads to plug in to my spare amp, set it up only to find the fault was still there, and only THEN eventually figured out the actual cause, disconnected the offending pedal and reconnected the main amp again before being rewarded with my beautiful restored guitar tone [Editor’s note: this was a told you so moment as yours truly said it was a pedal at the start of the problem]. Just in time to save Em from having to attempt an a capella version of the Oasis song she’d been requested to do.

So we were able to happily romp through the rest of the set, and play a couple of hugely fun encores, before slumping into a happy exhausted heap while we mustered the energy to pack everything up.

Hooray for rock & roll!

Coming up next weekend – two more rather fine outings…

Friday 18th – The Packhorse, Lawrence Hill
Lovely cosy and friendly biker’s pub. We played here a while before Christmas, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We think they did too, ‘cos they asked us back.

Sunday 20th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Next door to Ben’s gaffe, and a 6:30 start so we can all still be tucked up in beddy byes by ten*, ready for school in the morning. Rawk and roll, hey?

Right, that’ll do, I’m off to see the wizard, now.

The wonderful wizard of Beer…

Square on

*Contrary to popular belief, Angel Up Front do NOT in fact all sleep together in an oversized bed, each wearing a set of blue and white striped pyjamas and a nightcap. #thetruth.

11-10-2018 – You Can Coil My Cables Anytime

Hola amigos!

Welcome back to the never-ending tour diaries of Angel Up Front – to my mind, the finest rawk’n’roll band in this blog. (Although I have to admit, the competition is somewhat limited on that front…)

Nonetheless, I must admit that, talented and lovely as we are, even we are not above the occasional mishap; for example, on Friday at the Giant Goram, one of our number (who shall remain nameless) forgot the words to Alice Cooper*’s classic anthem School’s Out – such that we started the song, we played round the first verse twice waiting for inspiration to strike, then stopped again.

We ask the punters if they’d like us to try again – they would, so after a quick reminder of the words, we successfully manage to get through it on the second attempt.

The rest of the night passes without mishap, and whilst we’re packing up, Emma (for it was indeed she who forgot the words) redeems herself magnificently.

Amongst the usual packing-away chaos of drum cases, lighting stands, etc, scattered everywhere, Em suddenly stops what she’s doing when she notices me just gazing at her from somewhere across the stage.

“What is it?” she asks.

“I was just watching you,” I explain. “Thing is…There’s something almost supernaturally sexy about a woman who can coil up mike cables properly”.

She is well pleased with this.

Funnily enough, the following night at the Crown in Staple Hill, between sets, a couple of the audience are telling Ben how very impressed they are with the evening’s entertainment, and in particular how talented Emma is. “

Yes, she certainly is”, he agrees, “But to tell the truth, when we did the auditions, the main reason she got the job was that she can coil up cables…”.

However, our favourite audience response comes after we finish the last set, and all slump down at a nearby table to catch our breath for a moment.

“Excuse me”, a nice lady enquires, “Can I just ask… Are you all related?”

We’re reduced to stunned silence for a moment.

We look round at each other, trying in vain to see some family resemblance.

“Er… not as far as we know…” we hazard, cautiously.

Emma eventually works out the logic behind the question.

“It’s because we’re all idiots, isn’t it…?”

Coming up next week – another dose of amnesiac idiocy…
Saturday 13th – Albion House Social Club, Cheltenham
Not one of your lower class social clubs, this is actually a proper nice place, with decent beer, massively helpful staff, and a friendly and enthusiastic crowd. And, as I recall from last time, a very impressive state-of-the-art smoke detector, which nobody knows how to switch off…

In the meantime, Emma is pleased to offer – at very reasonable rates – evening classes in cable-coiling, for the benefit of any single young ladies who may wish to attract a mate of the musician persuasion. Although, to be honest, my advice would be to simply run away while you still can.

Thas’ yer lot for this week

Square on

*My favourite quote from Alice Cooper comes from an interview when he was asked what he thought of Marilyn Manson: – “He wears make-up and he has a girl’s name. How original.”

02-10-2018 – Plug And Play

‘Sup, dudes

Right, well after a somewhat trying week, I was looking forward to playing a nice noisy gig on Saturday, in honour of Emma’s mate Jez’s 50th birthday.

Eagerly we loaded the gear in, I set up my rig, plugged into it, and… nothing.

Signal is getting from the guitar as far as the tuner, but no further. I ferret out a spare cable and plug directly into the amp. Still nothing. Five minutes of frenzied panic set in.

I check all the connections – they’re fine. Just as I am debating whether I have time to dash back home and pick up my spare amp head, Stuart helpfully says “Have you checked you’ve plugged all the cables in the right way round?”

“Of course I bloody have, look, this one goes in there, that one goes in there, and that one round the back… …is in the wrong socket”.

Funny, it was all in the right place when I checked a moment ago.

I feel I should point out at this juncture that you, the taxpayer, funded me for three years to get a degree in Electrical Engineering. Money well spent, eh?

Cables swapped round, guitar plugged back in, and the room is treated to the sound of a Seymour Duncan Custom ’59 humbucker majestically pushing four EL34 valves into a luscious creamy overdrive. It makes me very happy.

Ben is even happier than me though, once he discovers the size and scope of the buffet table. It appears to be large enough to expect to find herds of wildebeest roaming majestically across it – except that apparently they have already been caught, cooked, and served up on an array of plates.

Vegetablist Stuart is, on the other hand, pleased to find a large table set aside, groaning under the weight of wholesome vegetarian fare.

“No lips or arseholes for me” he gleefully pronounces.

Emma and I agree that this is indeed a sound policy for first dates. And spend the next ten minutes giggling hopelessly.

Lovely hostess Sarah is insistent that we all eat as much as possible, and take the rest home. We really do try our best.

The rest of the night goes very well, with much daft dancing around and merriment – even when ham-fisted Alan manages to snap a string mid-song, he is able to bluff his way through to the end of it, and Emma gamely distracts the audience while he digs out spare axe and bullies it into tune in time for the next number.

Finally we run out of time and have to stop, then we set about the Herculean task of loading all the equipment and spare food into the vehicles before we can shamble away homeward.

Coming up – a nice normal weekend, two gigs, nice and local. Well, local, anyway…

Friday 5th – Giant Goram, Lawrence Weston
Despite its less-than-salubrious location, this is a really jolly friendly place, the landlady (who is from “bloody Wales”) is always up for a laugh, and just as well, really…

Saturday 6th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Just literally round the corner from Ben’s new gaffe, he can actually walk to this gig. He may even be able to walk home again afterwards. Lovely pub, they likes their rocky stuff in here – and just as well, since that’s what they’re going to be getting.

And – well, that’s it for this week – I’m off to practice plugging cable in to sockets.

Square on

11-06-2018 – Dog Danger In The Dean

Greetings and salutations, my children of the night…

Well, that was an interesting weekend…

Saturday night, and we are booked to play a wedding at a rather nice place over in the Forest Of Dean. Very pictureskew it was, too. When Em and I arrived, deliberately early “just in case”, we found a huge marquee as promised, nicely done out, and with a somewhat aged ceilidh band just starting up. I’m allowed to say they were somewhat aged, because I am a self-confessed old bugger meself; nonetheless, some of these looked like they were approaching Death. From the other direction…

Having established that we weren’t going to be needed for a while, and there was no opportunity to unload the kit yet either, in true muso style we decamped to the nearest pub, where we met up with Ben & Stuart. We sat outside in the sunshine merrily chatting away for a while, until I eventually gave in and bought a round.

Finally we set off back to the venue, met the nice people, and set up. I was warned by the groom that one of his pals was there with his dog, who had just bitten one of ceilidh band. “He’s a lovely dog, but sometimes he just seems to go a bit mental if he sees a bloke with greying hair.”

And there’s me with my distinguished-looking platinum highlights, cost me a fortune, they did…

“Do you happen to know which member of the last band he bit?” I asked.

“Oh, it was the guitar player, I think… Anyway, if he does go for you, just climb a tree or something…”

On this comforting note, it’s time to start. In the event, the dog didn’t savage anyone, but we had a lot of lovely dancing folks, including the statutory small boy doing repeated power slides across the dance floor, which is of course now a legal requirement at all weddings.

Finally, it got to midnight, we were knackered, they were knackered, and so we gracefully called proceedings to a sweaty halt, and set off in search of more free food. We really are getting the hang of this.

Sunday teatime, and the Crown in Staple Hill beckons. And a mighty fine evening we had of it, I even managed (unlike the previous night) to actually play half-decently, which was something of a relief. I’d been beginning to think that all the hours I’d put into playing for the past forty-odd years were a total waste of time.

No comments, please.

Coming up this weekend…

Nothing. Nada. Not a sausage. No gigs.

Peace and quiet, perhaps….?

Square on

04-06-2018 – Klingon Birthday

Hola amigos!

I’ll keep this one short again -’cause the sun is shining in the garden, and there’s a beer waiting for me.

I’ll just briefly tell the tale of Saturday’s escapade to the Lamb in Marlborough – being just a couple of days shy of Ben’s 30th birthday, we figured this would be the best time to give him his pressies.

Now, I think it’s fair to say that our Ben is just a teeny tiny tad geeky, so he was immensely pleased when Emma presented him with a special set of many-sided dice, fantasy role-playing games for the use of. He did later admit that he already owns around a dozen sets of said dice, but that nonetheless these ones were absolutely necessary, as they’re especially shiny.

I, on the other hand, attacked his geekiness from a different angle – since last Christmas I managed to find him a t-shirt that combined both Star Trek and bass playing, I had to somehow top that. And I think I managed…

Klingon Bass Pedal

Yes folks, it’s a bass effects pedal, custom built for Ben, and with all the controls labelled in Klingon. I was rather proud of myself for making this – the culmination of several weeks of happily scribbling circuit diagrams and painstaking soldering bits together, and two entire (and extremely vexing) evenings at the laptop, trying to find the right word in Klingon for (for example) “volume”, and cross-correlate it to make sure the translation back into English was correct, then have to find the correct combination of keystrokes to use to get the Klingon font I found show the right symbol…

Did you know that there are about seven dialects of Klingon, and several different Klingon alphabet font sets, which don’t properly correlate with the online Klingon dictionaries?

Oh, how I cursed those geeks… they really should find something useful to do.

Anyways, well received though this present was, Em still won by providing a magnificent cake.

Now, why didn’t I think of that?

Anyhoo – coming up this weekend, we’re playing a wedding on Saturday (best dig out me posh frock) and on Sunday…

Sunday 10th – The Crown, Staple Hill
Nice and local, and with a 6:45 start, a nice early finish too. We very much enjoyed it here last time, and are expecting to do the same again this time. But with maybe just a hint more silliness. And a bass overdrive pedal; in bloody Klingon.

Square on

PS – since I now have some spare time coming up, and all the necessary kit, if anybody out there happens to want a custom built effects pedal built, let me know and we can talk terms. As long as the labels are in English…